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Sports days have positive effects, not only in improving physical ability but also in allowing students to bond. They nurture a sense of cooperation through physical education classes held prior to the event. Although schools have been asked to take various measures and reduce school hours amid the pandemic, I hope sports days will be kept as a way to enhance the learning experience for students.

22 Comments

Prof. Takahiro Nakano of Chukyo University, who specializes in children’s sports science. Elementary and junior high schools in areas where a state of emergency or priority measures are implemented are torn about whether to hold their annual sports days for their students.

© Yomiuri Shimbun

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I wonder how old the good old Prof. Nakano is. Wanting to keep vestiges of Japan's militaristic school system alive and well in 2021! I don't have a problem with kids out running and enjoying sports, but it is the countless hours wasted practicing the marching and displays that would be much better spent in class studying and then give the kids more time off, to really play and bond with their friends!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Whats the problem in skipping it once or twice due to a global pandemic....once majority is vaccinated by next year, there is no issue. Anyone thats been to a school festival knows well there is lots of parents and families mingling with each other.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

what a load of manure, it’s a bizarre training of children in stupid heat for a day that really serves no purpose at all other than being busy to train the children in the task of being busy for no purpose. It’s like running around with flags to what end? Hate sports days it’s like a mini Hitler Youth rally. That only the old and demented appreciates.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Yes - I agree with the above sentiments.

My primary concern with sports days - well the ones my kids were involved with which I guess are typical country-wide - is the inane rote nature of the events. Same old Same old.

Having sports events is fine - but you'd think a little innovation would have crept in over the decades to refresh the stale model.

There is heaps and heaps of research and information / examples of how to run successful sports days that cater for all.

It's not about kids having exercise, fun or playing with others - everyone agrees that's good - it's about the model.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

You don’t know japan unless you have seen the practice of marching in the lead up to these sports days. It’s really something to behold. If you are a JET make sure you go and check out these ‘practice’ days. It’s something that will be embedded in your brain forever. ( used to think how funny it would be trying to make Aussie high school Ise do the same! Like , impossible )

Also the madness, drama and hilarious ‘oen’ shows, where the third years take the reigns, are allowed to get creative ( as a group of course ) and showcase their many skills to music. Definitely a highlight of what can be a very drab and constricted education system.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I hope sports days will be kept as a way to enhance the learning experience for students.

There is no pressure whatsoever to get rid of undokai. The idea of it not being kept is completely ludicrous. Japanese schools have regular PE lessons, so kids get plenty of exercise anyway, on top of most elementary school kids walking to school.

As other posters point out, undokai is militaristic and Japanese schools have way too much group activity (shudan koudo) to begin with. The need is to respect children more as individuals, with perfectly valid likes and dislikes.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Sports days have positive effects, not only in improving physical ability but also in allowing students to bond.

Someone has been drinking too much kool-aid! A "once a year" event, is not going to improve any kids physical abilities!

All they learn is how to sweat copiously, fall over from heat exhaustion, and waste taxpayers money on a needless waste of time and energy, all in the name of "tradition"

Sports days arent for the kids! They are a chance for the grandparents to see their kids in action, and have a bento together!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The need is to respect children more as individuals, with perfectly valid likes and dislikes.

One can not imagine the can-of-worms that would be opened here if kids "likes and dislikes" are respected in a school environment here.

To solve that, Japan needs to find it's own way to teach kids their part in the collective, and for the collective to understand and respect individuality. Neither of which is going to happen in my life time!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

What a thinker! Instead of keeping the students safe and skip one or two rounds, let us go on with this nonsense and make an exsuce "as a way to enhance the learning experience for students".

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I thought that's what gym classes were for.

Anyway, if these events involve making human pyramids and suffering broken bones, severe brusing and twisted ankles, leave me out of it.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No, HERE is what sports days actually do:

1) Allow the elderly to think they know what children really want -- which naturally is what said elderly are nostalgic about.

2) Allow for students to miss out on COUNTLESS hours of study so that they can run drills over and over and over, so much so that the outcome of the sports day is known before it occurs, and there is sheer panic if it rains and cannot be carried out according to an already too rigid schedule.

3) Forces children into illegal physical manoeuvres in some cases, like human pyramids, that can result in severe injury and have resulted in paralysis and nerve damage in a few cases.

4) Allow for people like the man being quoted to wax on about a more militaristic time he would like Japan to return to, and an outdated concept of what causes bonds to be built.

5) It continues to deny children the right to choose what physical activities outside of study they would like to be engaged in, often fostering resentment towards such days. Should be limited to P.E. haha.

6) And the big purpose of the whole thing: gives a show to grandma and grandpa, including fighting over a good spot in the morning (at least pre-covid, anyway).

7 ( +7 / -0 )

which is why we make kids run in +40C weather instead of cancelling the events, to make sure the shared suffering is forever imbedded in their collective experience no matter the health risks

7 ( +7 / -0 )

That’s in most cases only funny for the parents , for meeting, talking, eating together and watching their children, as well as for the teachers, to justify their existence and high wages. But for the bigger part of all those little children it’s a real torture, exposed to masses they don’t know, pressured to show good results in extreme summer heat and much more, now even wearing exhausting masks because of corona. For improvement of physical abilities they already have the daily walk to and from school , sports lessons and club or other private free time sports activities.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I know the professor has a vested interest in talking up the benefits of his own subject matter, but as a 'specialist in children's sport science' he should really be using his platform to call for change.

A 'specialist in children's sport science' should be able to see very clearly that things have moved on considerably from the 'good old days', and conducting sports days in 40C heat, making human pyramids, marching around in formation, sitting in the sun etc. - and time spent practicing all these things - is not really good sport science.

If the main purpose of these sports days is to 'bond' and 'nurture a sense of cooperation', there are countless better ways to create fun, enjoyable, learning experiences for kids. The fact that these military like sports days ARE the fun and enjoyable experiences for kids, it says a lot about the state of the rest of the curriculum they have to endure.

I wonder how much time this 'specialist in children's sport science' has spent in different schools around the world, studying how other countries and cultures treat their kids? I presume the answer is 'not that much', but I might be wrong and the rest of the developed world may be missing the fact that their students should be making more human pyramids in 40C heat in order to bond and nurture a sense of cooperation.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

No need for those "taikusais" or what they call sports meetings!

If they really wanted a sports event, why not make it an "Mini-Olympic" in fall, with those who want to run, jump, and throw being the "athletes" and all others cheering their class- / teammates. That would (maybe) satisfy those folks at the Education ministry, too. Everything else (and believe me, I experienced it for quite some time) is nothing but torture, forcing, and neo-militarism!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

specialist in children's sport science

For science, read history.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

In the good old days back in Canada, at the end of the school year, early June, we would have our Olympics day. We would all gather in the school ground and we would run 100 meter races, do high jump, long jump, shot put, and a relay race. We didn't practice, we got a ribbon if we one, then we all went home, tired happy and that was that!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I went on Saturday and had fun, my lil one was excited about the whole day which consisted of typical running races and a group dance both of which were fun but then it turned into militaristic display with beating drums and boys screaming at the top of their lungs for 10 mins that 赤 team were stronger, then 白 team screamed for 10 mins that they were stronger.

I said to my wife how easy it must have been to recruit soldiers back in the day.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Ha my first utterance on seeing a sports day was...looks like North Korea..

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It is absolute torture. Our kids schools decided in their wisdom to combine grammar and JH together making the full day program 7 or 8 hours. And the laborious speeches to start the event by various politicos and administrative folks. I would prefer to have my teeth drilled. Our kids were all into it as they had trained for weeks for the event. But in 8 hours they did something active for about 20 minutes or so. The rest of the time they just sat and watched. So the better name for SD is the Waste Time Day. I learned that smart parents just take off during the event and come back at the end.

And yes the human pyramid display is semi-torture. The US military forced prisoners at Abu Ghraib to do something much worse but similar. That particular SD move needs to be stopped.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Interesting opinion touting the perceived benefits of participating in outdoor group events, attended by large numbers of spectators massed together in humid heat.

Coincidentally, it’s posted at a time when the entire country is debating holding numerous, yet larger scaled events in the same temperature conditions yet with significantly more variables during an unpredictable, global pandemic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is no indication of when, where and in what context Prof. Takahiro Nakano’s above opinion was offered for this publication. The only online reference found on an independent research website, citing Prof, Nakano’s observations and opinions between May and July 2020, the time of the Japan’s initial ‘school closures’ in the first months of the pandemic.

Since that time, there have been significant developments and new variables introduced over the last year that should be considered before reciting, and/or perhaps he should be eIevaluating his opinion?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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